Lexington considers buying Masonic headquarters site
The Supreme Council that governs Scottish Rite Masons in 15 states is looking to sell its headquarters building in Lexington and move into the organization’s National Heritage Museum next door, according to town officials.
The move is expected to occur by August of next year, and Lexington officials have begun exploring whether they are interested in buying the property, according to Town Manager Carl Valente.
The chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen said a majority of the board would favor using the property for a community center, which would include a senior center.
The fraternal organization is seeking to sell a 10.4-acre property that includes its headquarters, in a mansion dating to 1905, at 33 Marrett Road, said Valente.
Two other buildings — an old carriage house now used for storage, and a home that has housed the organization’s supreme commander — on the property would also be put up for sale, according to the town manager.
Representatives from the Scottish Rite did not respond to requests for comment.
Valente said Scottish Rite officials first met with the town to discuss selling the property in May, but he said he is not in a position to disclose what the organization has said it believes the property to be worth.
However, Valente said, it’s fair to say that more than 10 acres in the center of Lexington would have a multimillion-dollar price tag. The property is about 1.5 miles from Lexington’s Battle Green.
The Supreme Council based in Lexington governs the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, which covers 15 states from New England to Wisconsin and Delaware.
According to the organization’s website, it is one of two Scottish Rite supreme councils in the United States; the other, based in Washington, D.C., oversees the organization’s Southern Jurisdiction.
The National Heritage Museum, also at 33 Marrett Road, focuses on American history, and will continue operating when the Scottish Rite Supreme Council moves its headquarters into the building, said Valente.
The Board of Selectmen has authorized Valente to have two appraisals done on the Scottish Rite’s property, and to hire an architect to review the buildings.
“This is on a fast track for us,” Valente said.
Selectwoman Deb Mauger, the board’s chairwoman, said her colleagues have expressed interest in the property, and the majority of the board supports considering the site for use as a community center that would include a senior center.
Last year, selectmen appointed a community center task force to explore the concept of a facility that could serve the intellectual, social, and physical needs of the town’s senior citizens, adults, and youths.
Mauger said the board is awaiting the task force’s report, which should tell selectmen more about how much support there is for developing a community center and what services it should provide.
But Mauger said determining a use for the Scottish Rite property, if it is purchased by the town, would entail a more public process, and the town has not identified sources to fund the purchase.
Valente said the Scottish Rite headquarters building includes almost 18,000 square feet of space and is on the town’s list of culturally significant buildings.
He described the building as a modern office space that has been impeccably maintained.
“If our highest priority was a community center, it’s probably most aligned with that use,” he said.
If the town decides to buy the property, Mauger said, Town Meeting would have to approve the purchase.
Valente said he expects the town will hire an architect to review the property by the third week of September, and he expects appraisals of the property could be completed in three months.
“Our discussions are if we’re interested in it we need to tell them that, so we can proceed with negotiations,’’ Valente said, “and if we’re not we also need to tell them within a few months, so they can look elsewhere to other potential purchasers.’’
Brock Parker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.